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SAMURAI BLUE resumes training ahead of 2nd match against Oman – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)

11 January 2019

SAMURAI BLUE resumes training ahead of 2nd match against Oman – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)

On Thursday 10 January, one day following their come-from-behind victory over the Turkmenistan National Team, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) held a training session at Abu Dhabi ahead of their second group stage match against Oman National Team at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

The session took place at 10 a.m. where the scorching sunshine made it feel hot even under the shadows. The players who started in the match against Turkmenistan on the day before stayed at the hotel to recover from the match, while the remaining 12 members including KITAGAWA Koya (Shimizu S-Pulse), who played as a substitute, worked up a sweat in the training session that lasted about an hour and a half.

The field players were seen taking a light jog and going over core trainings, followed by possession and passing drills. The two goalkeepers warmed up in their own routine where they caught shots and crosses to get their heart rate up.

All the players were gathered following the warmups, where the team went through 5 vs 5 drills in a small grid, and a shooting drill that utilised the width of the field to go over the movement of each position. The team was then seen conducting drills that involved game-like situations where they carried the ball from the halfway line in a 3 vs 2 situation and another drill that involved making runs behind the opposing defenders. The team session concluded with a half-court 5 vs 5 scrimmage.

Following the team session, players were seen conducting individual trainings, where some were seen jogging and stretching while others went over ball control and shooting drills. The two goalkeepers, SCHMIDT Daniel (Vegalta Sendai) and HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki (Gamba Osaka) paired up to take shots at each other to polish up their blocking skills.

Midfielder INUI Takashi (Real Betis) was seen repeatedly going over his shots as he mentioned, “My touches are good, and my conditions are not bad neither.” Midfielder ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol) also shared that, “We are all feeling confident. I’d like to prepare myself in the best way possible.”

Following their 3-2 victory over Turkmenistan, Japan is currently in first place of Group F. A win over Oman on Sunday 13, will clinch the team into the next round ahead of their third match against Uzbekistan.

Players' Comments

DF #2 MIURA Genta (Gamba Osaka)
Yesterday we faced a difficult match, and although it would’ve been better if we can keep a clean sheet, it means a lot that we managed to pull off a win in a match like that. There may be similar matches down the stretch, so we hope to showcase our persistence in those matches as well. I will prepare myself so that I can perform well when I am given the opportunity to play. We will work hard to display our style of football. In any given match, it’s important to fight through as a team, so we must maintain such intention at all times, regardless of whether I am on the pitch or on the bench.

DF #5 NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.)
We gave up many opportunities from counter attacks and if we kept on insisting to play like we did in the first half, we wouldn’t have won the match. I was able to create opportunities for the team by making overlapping runs to combine with HARAGUCHI, which eventually led to a goal. We told each other during halftime to stay positive and play persistently until the end. I feel like that has helped us play the way we did in the second half. The match gave us the opportunity to refocus, so we will utilise this experience in our next match.

DF #18 SHIOTANI Tsukasa (Al Ain FC)
I was visualising what I would do on the pitch while watching the match yesterday. It’s important that we share our thoughts to keep ourselves on the same page, so it’s essential that we keep communicating with each other at all times. We can get used to this weather. Our conditions will get better as we play more matches and go through training sessions. With Oman being a neighbouring country, it is expected that their supporters will come out to watch the match, creating an away atmosphere for us. I have an impression that the Middle East nations has a style of football to keep the match scoreless until they capitalise on their one-chance, so we must be careful.

DF #19 SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille)
It helped a lot that Osako scored the goal early in the second half. It really allowed the team to play with composure afterwards. The second goal we conceded was so unnecessary, and it was very disappointing as a defender. Our offence has bailed us out and now we can think that the match gave us the opportunity to work on our tasks. By winning the match, it gives us a positive vibe and we hope to continue winning our matches. Our team strengths are in our ability to win matches despite facing difficulties and hardships. We hope to gain more experience and become a better team.

DF #20 MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds)
We must be more creative when facing teams dropping deep in their territory, and we must also think how to operate our game under this hot climate. We saw different condition levels among the players and many flaws during this match.

MF #7 SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.)
We struggled to construct our offence in tight spaces and made many easy mistakes. With this being our first official match as a team and the first match of the tournament, we did look a bit nervous. Tomiyasu and I weren’t in sync with each other and we were undecisive on the decisions to push-up or drop-down. Ultimately, that gave our opponents the opportunity to counter attack, so we must be more thorough on our risk management.

MF #9 MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg)
We gave up too many easy mistakes in the first half, which led to our opponents’ counter attacks, so that is something we must fix. Our opponents have scouted us and gave us very little space to work with. I kept in mind that we must be patient and anticipate for our opportunity in the second half. By shifting our midfielders wide in the flanks, it made it much easier for us to move around. Under this hot weather, we gave up a goal from a superb shot taken by our opponent. This match made us realise the difficulties of these types of tournaments. However, we also did a great job to stay patient and make the adjustments to prevail at the end.

MF #10 INUI Takashi (Real Betis)
After watching the first half, I felt that the team was insisting too much to break through the middle, so I told my teammates to utilise the flanks. Everyone is prepared to play, and I was very eager to play on the pitch. It’s important that we won the match, and it’s a good thing that we have something to work on. We must think positively that this was our first match and utilise this experience to win our next match.

Schedule

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Squad, Schedule

  • Interview of INUI Takashi (Real Betis/Spain)

  • Interview of SHIOTANI Tsukasa (Al Ain FC/UAE)

  • Interview of ENDO Wataru (Sint-Truidense V.V./Belgium)

AFC ASIAN CUP UAE 2019

Tournament Dates: Sat. 5 January - Fri. 1 February 2019

Group Stage:
Wed. 9 January Kick-off 20:00 (Japan Time)
vs Turkmenistan National Team

Sun. 13 January Kick-off 22:30 (Japan Time)
vs Oman National Team

Thu. 17 January Kick-off 22:30 (Japan Time)
vs Uzbekistan National Team

Broadcasting: Televised Live at TV Asahi Group
BS Broadcasting: Televised Live at NHKBS1

Tournament Information

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